Eastern Europe - Australia's new Eurovision allies?
Coming into Eurovision 2021 it was pretty clear who Australia's Eurovision allies were.
Doing some number crunching, we found the 10 countries who most supported us were predominantly from Western Europe and Scandinavia.
Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, UK and Finland were in our top six with Poland the only Eastern European outlier.
While nine out of our 10 bottom countries were all nations from beyond the former Iron Curtain.
But this year, something very different unfolded.
In total, 96% of our points received in the semi-final came from Eastern European nations - a total of 27 of our 28 points.
We received points from:
Ukraine (12 points in the jury, 1 point in the televote)
Lithuania (8 points in the jury)
Croatia (2 points in the jury)
Romania (2 points in the jury)
Russia (1 points in the jury, 1 point in the televote)
Germany was the lone "western" nation to give us a point (from their juries).
This meant that our long time friends Sweden gave us 0!
Also giving us 0 were Ireland, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium, Malta, Italy, Cyprus, Israel, Romania, Azerbaijan, North Macedonia and Slovenia.
You can see how they voted in placings below:
So what's happening here?
In our early years at Eurovision, Australia took well produced pop to the Contest which often resembled music from Northern Europe.
By 2018 that had started to wear thin with the voting public, despite strong jury scores.
The Australian public had their first say on our entry the following year at 'Australia Decides' and we chose quirk and difference in Kate Miller-Heidke rather than "safe" like Sheppard who finished 3rd in the national selection.
In 2019 we finished in the Top 10 again, but the signs were already there that some traditional allies had gone off us a little.
Our only set of 12 points came from Poland and Romania, while the Swedes gave us a respectable 6 points in the jury and 5 points in the televote.
However, there were stronger signs of displeasure when the Norwegian and Danish juries gave Kate nothing (Iceland saved the day for our regional friendship though giving us 20 points in total.)
And now in 2021 they look to have abandoned us altogether.
So if we've broken up with Sweden, who is our new BFF?
Well an unlikely friend has come out of Rotterdam and it's Ukraine!
Once the nation to bring a sense of trauma to Aussie Eurovision fans (thanks to Jamala squeezing past Dami Im to take the title in 2016) it seems we're really starting to get each other now.
As mentioned, the Ukrainian juries gave us 12 points and the televote got us into their Top 10.
In a voting sense they were definitely our besties this year.
The voting was reciprocated with Australians giving Ukraine 12 points in the semi-final televote and 10 points in the Grand Final.
The juries also gave it 5 points in the Grand Final as well (and 4 points in the semi-final).
The love between Ukraine and Australia went beyond votes with our respective artists Montaigne and Go_A showing a great deal of mutual respect.
In the press conference after the semi-final Kateryna from Go_A representing Ukraine had voted for Australia and said if Ukraine didn't qualify she would to have liked to see Australia get through.
Montaigne also said after non-qualifying that she "was ready to riot if Ukraine didn't qualify" also adding in another tweet that her favourite part of being in Eurovision had been,"performing alongside such an impressive roster of acts especially Go_A, Dadi Freyr, Manizha and The Roop."
Notably Ukraine, Russia and Lithuania all gave points to Australia in that semi-final.
Montaigne also learned the words of 'Shum' for a rendition on her Instagram page that Go_A shared.
This isn't actually new
The signs of this burgeoning love have been coming for a little while now.
Outside of Eurovision there are a number of official fan club competitions throughout the year.
The OGAE Second Chance contest sees each nation's fan club choose an entry that didn't win their national selection.
In 2020 Australia sent Jaguar Jonze with 'Rabbit Hole'. The song finished a disappointing 18th however five nations still gave us points including Ukraine who placed us 5th.
Australia also returned the favour with 3 points for their act 'Call for Love'.
Then there was the OGAE Song Contest, which sees each fan club choose any song to represent their nation that had come out that previous year.
Australia once again sent Jaguar Jonze, this time with 'Kill Me With Your Love'.
This time she finished a respectable 9th place with one set of 12 points from, you guessed it, Ukraine!
Additionally this year in the OGAE Song Poll (where fan clubs vote on the Eurovision songs before the Contest itself), Australia received just 4points including 3 points form Ukraine.
So this newer approach of more indie/Triple J style music appears to be working with the East and particularly Ukraine.
Is this a good thing in the long term for Australia or will we revert to safer pop for our Northern European friends.
If it all goes ahead, it'll be Australians who decide in February next year.